May 28, 2009
Action continues this weekend for 17 members of the Air Force track and field team, as it heads to the NCAA Midwest Regional Championships in Norman, Okla. The Falcons will compete in 21 events during the two-day event, which begins Friday (May 29), at the John Jacobs Track and Field Complex on the University of Oklahoma's campus. The meet, one of four such regional competitions, will determine which athletes will travel to next month's national championships.
THE FALCONS' CAST
The Academy will be represented by 12 men (14 events) and five women (seven events) at the regional championships. Junior Sara Neubauer will compete in three of the four throwing events, while senior Kellen Curry (200-meter dash; 110-meter hurdles) and sophomore Justin Tyner (3000-meter steeplechase; 5000-meter run) will each participate in a pair of events. Below is a complete list of the Air Force competitors.
MEN'S TEAM: Daniel Castle (1500-Meter Run) -- Kellen Curry (200-Meter Dash; 110-Meter Hurdles) -- Robert Drye (Hammer Throw) -- Nick Frawley (Pole Vault) -- Harmon Gage (Javelin Throw) -- Sean Houseworth (5000-Meter Run) -- Zachary Nordahl (3000-Meter Steeplechase) -- Sebastian Ortiz (1500-Meter Run) -- Dan Paladino (Hammer Throw) -- Justin Tyner (3000-Meter Steeplechase; 5000-Meter Run) -- Connor Van Fossen (Javelin Throw) -- Matt Williams (3000-Meter Steeplechase) WOMEN'S TEAM: Paige Blackburn (Javelin Throw) -- Ally Romanko (800-Meter Run) -- Sara Neubauer (Shot Put, Discus Throw, Hammer Throw) -- Kimber Shealy (Pole Vault) -- Katie Weber (Javelin Throw)
Action for the Air Force contingent begins at 11 a.m., on Friday, May 29, with the trials and finals of the women's hammer throw. The men's javelin throw, women's pole vault and women's discus throw will also be held on Friday, while the rest of the field events will be contested on Saturday. With the exception of the 5000-meter run (finals on Friday) and 3000-meter steeplechase (finals on Saturday), the running events will have preliminary heats on Friday and the final heats on Saturday.
HOW THIS WORKS
The top five finishers from each event at the four various regional sites automatically qualify to the NCAA Championship meet. The next three placewinners (6th, 7th, 8th) will be recommended for at-large consideration based on their standing on the National Descending Order list.
LAST YEAR AT THE REGIONAL MEET
Then-senior Kevin Hawkins increased his Academy record in the finals of the 800-meter run, bringing the mark down to 1:48.62. Hawkins and then-sophomore Nick Frawley earned all-region accolades following their top-eight performances at the Regional Championships in Lincoln, Neb., during the 2008 season.
HONORING THEIR OWN
Senior Sean Houseworth and junior Sara Neubauer received the team's MVP accolade at the program's end-of-year banquet on May 24, while senior Kellen Curry and junior Ally Romanko were awarded the Most Outstanding Competitor honors. In all, the program handed out 20 awards, while recapping the 2009 season.
Meet Notes: @ NCAA Midwest Regional Championships
MORGAN WINS MWC DECATHLON TITLE
With a career-best total of 6,750 points, senior Skylar Morgan won the MWC decathlon title on May 14. After entering the day in fourth, Morgan tallied several career-best marks to vault into first at win his first conference title. Improving his career total by 193 points, Morgan accounted for the fifth-best decathlon score in Academy history.
WOMEN TALLY PROGRAM-BEST 62 POINTS AT CONFERENCE MEET
The women's team finished seventh with a program-record 62 points. The seventh-place finish in the team standings ties for the second-highest finish in program history. The men finished fourth in the team standings.
AIR FORCE CLAIMS 13 ALL-CONFERENCE SELECTIONS
The Falcons accounted for 13 all-conference accolades at the MWC Championships, including an unprecedented five from the women's team. In addition, four of the medals came from members of the freshmen class.
A ONE-TWO PUNCH
Senior Skylar Morgan and sophomore Noah Palicia finished first and second, respectively, in the decathlon at the conference championships on May 14. Like Morgan, Palicia vaulted up four places during the final day of competition. Palicia secured the silver medal by winning the final three events, despite suffering a broken nose during the pole vault competition.
THE ADJUSTMENT PERIOD
Junior Sara Neubauer, who was the runner-up in the discus throw, rewrote her own Academy standard in the hammer throw on May 15. In just her first year of throwing the implement, she finished fourth with a distance of 182'10". One day later, she adjusted her own program-leading record in the shot put to 50'10¾", while scoring in the javelin throw with the eighth-best distance in Academy history.
VAULTING TO NEW HEIGHTS
Freshman Kimber Shealy matched her career-best clearance of 12'7½" (the second-best mark in Academy history) to finish third in the pole vault at the conference meet on May 15. She is the third member of the women's pole vault team to earn all-conference honors during the last two years, including indoor and outdoor competitions.
With a career-best throw of 151'4" in the javelin throw at the conference championships on May 16, Paige Blackburn moved into third on the program's all-time list. Her distance also set a new Freshman Class record, breaking the previous mark of 149'1" that Dana Pounds set in 2003.
IT WAS BLUE AT THE TOP
In the final team competition of his collegiate career, Kellen Curry was the runner-up in the 110-meter hurdles, pushed the 4x100-meter relay team to an impressive third-place finish and scored for the Falcons in the 200-meter dash. Curry was not the only Air Force representative on the hurdles' medal podium as freshman Bryce Bergman, a teammate on the 4x100-meter relay, placed third.